The Colorado River toad is the largest native toad in the United States. It is also poisonous and should not be handled, especially by children.
What do they look like?
These toads can grow to the impressive size of just over 7 inches long. They usually have olive green skin (but it can be brownish as well) with a white underbelly. Their skin is smooth and leathery with some bumps or warts. They will typically have a white wart or two at the corners of the mouth.
Where do they live?
They are found in the southwest United States and northern Mexico. In the United States they live in the Sonoran Desert in California as well as southern Arizona and New Mexico.
The Colorado river toad prefers dry habitats like the desert. During the hot summer months they live in a burrow under the ground and come out at night or when it rains.
What do Colorado River toads eat?
Adult Colorado River toads are carnivorous, meaning they eat other animals. They will eat most anything small enough to fit into their mouths including spiders, insects, small toads and frogs, beetles, small lizards, and even small rodents like mice.
How poisonous are they?
The main defense of this toad is a poison that it secretes from glands in the skin. Although this poison won't typically kill an adult human, it can make you very sick if you handle the frog and get the poison in your mouth. Dogs can get sick or die if they pick up the frog with their mouths and play with it.
What is the difference between a toad and a frog?
Toads are actually a type of frog, so technically there is no difference between the two. However, when people refer to toads they are generally talking about frogs from the scientific family bufonidae. This family has stubby bodies and short back legs. They typically walk instead of hop. They also prefer dryer climates and have warty dry skin.
Are they endangered?
The conservation status of the species is "least concern". However, in California the toad is classified as "endangered" and in New Mexico it is considered "threatened".
Fun Facts about the Colorado River Toad
Another name for this toad is the Sonoran Desert toad.
They are active from May to September, living in burrows under the ground for the winter.
They can live for 10 to 20 years in the wild.
Like most frogs they have a long sticky tongue that helps them to capture their prey.
Baby Colorado River toads are born as tadpoles, but grow quickly into toadlets after about one month.
It is illegal to have the poison from the toad, called bufotenin, in your possession in the state of California.